After Hours: Find food, culture at Guam's Chamorro village

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A shopper peruses one of many tables of hand-made jewelry at the Wednesday night market at Chamorro Village in Hagatna, Guam. Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes
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A shopper peruses one of many tables of hand-made jewelry at the Wednesday night market at Chamorro Village in Hagatna, Guam. Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes

After Hours: Find food, culture at Guam's Chamorro village

by: Charlie Reed | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: March 19, 2013

Looking for a taste of local food and culture while in Guam? A couple of souvenirs?

Check out Chamorro Village, a complex of 44 restaurants and shops run by the local people of Guam, known as Chamorros. The village, in Hagatna, is open daily, but if you’re looking to do it right, go on a Wednesday night.

That’s when you’ll find the weekly night market, where you can twist and turn your way through a kaleidoscope of colorful people, food and atmosphere as the village swells with another 90-plus vendors and throngs of locals and tourists.

The Wednesday night market typically draws between 3,000 and 4,000 visitors between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.

“Everybody goes to Chamorro Village for the Wednesday night market — locals, tourists and military,” said Maria Ovalles, an assistant librarian the University of Guam. “You’re bound to run into somebody you know there.”

The first order of business when you arrive at Chamorro Village on a Wednesday is the food.

“A lot of locals go there for the food, some just stop by and pick some up on the way home if they can’t stay,” said Ovalles, who was born in the Philippines but grew up on Guam.

Tented tables are piled high with barbecued meat and poultry on sticks, traditional red rice, banana lumpia and other local specialties, which are reminiscent of American barbecue meets Filipino cuisine.

Ovalles said she goes for the barbecued eggplant with lime and coconut milk from Island Cuisine, one of scores of food vendors that grills its meat on site, filling the village with a delicious smoke that makes choosing one place difficult.

If you want to sample a variety of the exotic foods at hand, avoid the plate lunch sets at one place — about $10 for two or three meats, rice and another side dish — and instead buy individual items ranging from $1 to $3 from several vendors. All of it comes in Styrofoam boxes with plastic utensils, so don’t expect anything fancy. But it’s good.

Eat under the covered pavilion at the entrance of the village while the band plays and the locals (and sometimes the tourists) dance, or just cop a squat outside on a bench or the grass.

Then browse the traditional handmade tools, crafts and jewelry, most of which seem reasonably priced. The artists and vendors are all happy to explain the traditions behind their work, even if you don’t buy anything.

Still, it’s a great place to get a souvenir of your visit to this beautiful speck of an island in the Pacific.

Chamorro Village officially opened in 1994 and is now a self-sustaining enterprise operated by the Department of Chamorro Affairs, said program coordinator Gerardo Marcos.

“The Wednesday-night market is the family day for the community of Guam,” Marcos said. “A family night in the middle of the week.”

Whether you go alone or with a group, for the food or for the entertainment, to catch up with old friends or to meet new ones, Chamorro Village won’t disappoint.

CHAMORRO VILLAGE
Location: 169 W Marine Dr., Agana Heights, Guam 96910

Hours: Open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday night market from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Prices: Admission is free, and most regular tenant shops and restaurants accept major credit cards. But bring cash on Wednesday nights for food and weekly vendors.

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